Our Thoughts

Employee engagement Keeping staff engaged at home

28th April 2020

If you’re like us, you and your colleagues have been through a lot recently and we think employee engagement has never been more crucial.

It is clear all organisations have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Whether employees have been busy implementing new working practices, adjusting to working from home, or making tough decisions about their jobs and being furloughed, we’ve all had lots to think about. With so many changes happening in such a short space of time, it is more important than ever to keep your staff fully engaged.

We’ve had our own challenges here at TLF Research, and in this article we wanted to share how we’ve approached our employee engagement recently and what we’ve learned in the process. We also look at these themes in the wider view with a UK representative survey on the TLF Panel - with 43% of the UK now working from home it does raise some interesting questions about how to keep them, and all your employees, engaged.

You can download a PDF copy or read the article online below. If you have any questions about the article or would like to discuss your employee engagement plans please contact us.

 

Why we did an employee pulse survey

Happy staff = happy customers. Never before has communication with staff, and understanding their current wants and needs been more essential management information.

After 2 weeks of home working we decided to do a very quick “pulse survey” to understand how staff were coping with the remote working and isolation, and above all what we could do to make their working from home experience easier. Working from home brings many different challenges, often specific to each individual’s circumstances. We wanted to understand how our staff felt we could support them. It also gave us the opportunity to see how the company decision making and communications on coronavirus had been received and understood by staff.

What we learned from our pulse survey

1. The elephant in the room – job security

How safe is my job? I’m worried about the future of TLF and my employment. Whilst we can’t change the outside world, we can communicate our plans and our financial situation…these are the orders that have been cancelled, but these are the customers who we have retained, and these are the new orders we have won! Staff told us they wanted even more open and transparent business communications, and so that’s what we have responded with through weekly remote staff meetings.

Overall, we found that staff thought TLF has been very responsive, open and caring.
As well as the job security concerns the other 2 main areas of concern were ‘lack of contact with colleagues’, and ‘working between departments.’

2.Quick wins

In terms of being able to quickly address the concerns on ‘lack of contact with colleagues’, and ‘working between departments.’ There were many quicks wins, and excellent practical suggestions from staff on how we could do this better.

  • Great ideas from staff we could immediately implement were things such... Using our Intranet more for the Departmental Updates, company communications, staff diaries and holidays
  • Encourage phone calls rather than emails – especially if just to one person.
  • Ensure the appropriate people have easy access to the information and tools they need to efficiently perform their responsibilities
  • Circulate key project documentation to a wider audience
  • Keep doing things that make people feel part of TLF, like our staff recognition cards scheme has now moved online
  • Even little things, like helping people have the correct equipment and stationery for working from home were easy and quick things we could do

Our MD fed the results of the employee pulse survey to all staff at the staff meeting webinar and actions were taken within 48 hours of the survey closing. As another positive footnote to the employee pulse survey, whilst the survey was totally anonymous, we think many staff took some comfort from realising that everyone was having the same thoughts as they were.

Why it was a good idea, and why we will do another one

There is an old Native American saying that if you want to get somewhere fast go by yourself, but if you want to go far, take others with you. So we will do another pulse survey. It’s a no-brainer. It involves staff, reduces the feelings of isolation and the staff come up with great practical suggestions to help ease everybody’s passage through these troubled waters.

 


 

The wider view

As well as our own staff, we used our TLF panel to ask a representative sample of the UK’s population about the impact Covid-19 is having on their job security. As we can see, a quarter are already not working but most of those are furloughed with only 5% of respondents having lost their job:

  • Working from home 43%
  • Furloughed 20%
  • No change 17%
  • At work, distancing etc 15%
  • Redundant 5%

Was it fair?

Furloughing brought some differing staff experiences. Just over a quarter of respondents felt that the decision to furlough them was unfair. However, this was outweighed by over a third who felt the decision was extremely fair. Transparency is always key in any communications situation – but more so under the current event-magnifying environment.

There was also a difference about whether staff thought they had been told in a sensitive manner or in an insensitive way. I am sure both sets will long remember the sensitivity, or insensitivity, of their employer! Especially the one in ten employees who were actually informed by text message!

Three quarters of furloughed respondents indicated that they were relieved to be furloughed.

Working from home

With the majority now working from home we therefore asked this group a number of questions about their current working conditions. Most of those working from home do not do this under normal circumstances, and this change meant they find working from home difficult with people having concerns about having a suitable environment, technology issues, prioritising work, feeling productive and the quality of their own work.

In addition, and consistent with our TLF Pulse survey, most of the respondents have concern over the lack of contact with their co-colleagues.
A better future?

Positively, despite the uncertainty, eight out of ten are confident that the company they work for will survive the impact of Covid-19. And they are looking forward to coming back to work, as summarised by this comment from one of our panellists:
“I never thought I would say it but I am looking forward to going back to work. I'm looking forward, believe it or not, to the daily grind, the routine and I look forward to seeing my work colleagues again.”

So there’s an opportunity for us all here. Get this right and your staff will be more engaged when we get back to normal. This means showing concern now, getting feedback from staff now and ‘doing best what matters most’, to employees as well as customers.

If you would like more information on the the survey results please contact us.

01484 517575
Taylor Hill Mill, Huddersfield HD4 6JA
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